Are you wondering what causes lower back pain in women?
According to studies, lower back pain is more prevalent in women than men and can be due to various conditions.
So, I'm here to talk about all the possible reasons why your back hurts and what you can do for pain relief.
Just keep reading.
- Hormonal changes related to menstruation and pregnancy are among the most common causes of lower back discomfort in women.
- Lower back pain in women can be due to mechanical or structural problems with the spine, muscles, and nerves.
- Always consult a medical professional if your pain doesn't improve in a few days with home care or gets worse.
9 Causes of Lower Back Pain in Women
Lower back pain has many causes, ranging from muscle strain to underlying health problems like kidney infections, kidney stones, and tumors.
However, some types of lower back pain are related to medical conditions specific to females. The good news is that most causes of lower back discomfort in females are not serious.
But knowing what can cause lower back aches can help you get the proper treatment as soon as possible, improve your quality of life, and catch serious conditions early.
One key question many women may have when they experience such discomfort is, "How long does back pain last?" The duration of back pain can vary widely depending on its cause and the effectiveness of the treatment approach.
So, what causes lower back pain in women? You'd be surprised by these nine causes!
A couple of years ago, I noticed my lower back hurt a few days every month. It took me a while to determine that the discomfort appeared a few days before my period was due.
I was surprised to discover the culprit was PMS (premenstrual syndrome). According to studies, it's a common condition that affects up to 90% of women of reproductive age. (1)
Most women experience headaches, fatigue, bloating, loss of appetite, and mood swings before their menstrual cycle. However, PMS can cause various symptoms, including lower back aches.
During menstruation, your body secretes hormones to stimulate uterine contractions, which can increase body inflammation and cause abdominal muscle pain.
Moreover, when the uterus contracts, the abdominal pain can radiate to the lower back. Some women also have increased pain sensitivity during their period, which turns mild aches into sharp pain.
Fortunately, PMS-related lower lumbar spine pain should resolve in a couple of days after your menstrual cycle starts. And it's easy to control it with over-the-counter pain medication.
However, you should seek medical attention if you experience severe pain for more than ten days or other symptoms, such as fever, leg numbness, heavy bleeding, and weakness.
PMDD stands for Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder. It's a severe form of premenstrual syndrome.
It has similar symptoms to PMS, but it also causes physical and mental changes that interfere with your everyday activities and work, such as:
- Intense pain - abdominal, muscular, back, or joint pain
- Extreme mood changes
- Severe anxiety, depression, paranoia, detachment
- Suicidal thoughts
The exact cause of PMDD is unclear, but studies suggest a link between low levels of serotonin and PMDD. Women with a family history of PMS and depression are also at higher risk.
PMDD is a chronic condition that requires treatment and changes to one's diet and exercise regime. Fortunately, it's rare and affects about 5% of women of childbearing age.
If your discomfort is related to PMDD, it should get better after your menstrual cycle starts. But you should still seek treatment for the other symptoms.
Dysmenorrhea means painful menstruation. I know what all of you are thinking. Isn't menstruation always painful?
Mild pain is normal, but severe pain that lasts several days and keeps you from your daily activities isn't. And the heavy uterus contractions related to dysmenorrhea can cause lower back pain.
Anti-inflammatory drugs or pain medication can help you manage the pain until the end of your period.
Pregnancy is another common cause of lower back pain in women. Unlike pain related to menstruation, this type of back discomfort tends to get worse as the pregnancy progresses.
As specialists from Johns Hopkins Medicine explain, "Most back pain is related to the physical changes that happen during pregnancy, including hormones, changes in the center of gravity, and posture." (2)
Pregnancy hormones relax your muscles and loosen ligaments, which can cause lower back discomfort and increase your risk of injury or strain.
The extra weight of carrying a baby also changes your center of gravity, which pulls the lower back forward, straining the spine.
Moreover, many pregnant women tend to lean back to relieve the discomfort, which further strains the spine and causes back pain due to poor posture.
But back pain during pregnancy can be a sign of an underlying problem, so you should always consult your gynecologist to get a proper diagnosis.
#5 Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
PID is an infection that affects women's reproductive organs (uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, etc.). Risk factors for PID include multiple sexual partners and unsafe sex.
PID doesn't cause symptoms in all women, but if you have PID, the most common symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
- Lower back pain
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Pain during sex or when urinating
PID is usually the result of a sexually transmitted infection, such as gonorrhea. But it's also a possible complication after gynecologist surgery.
It's a serious infection that can cause infertility due to tissue scarring if left untreated. You'll need a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics to clear the infections.
Do you have heavy bleeding and chronic pain during your period? You might have endometriosis, a condition in which endometrial tissues grow outside the uterus.
Endometriosis can cause severe pelvic pain during menstruation and noticeable discomfort during sex or using the bathroom. And it can make it hard for you to get pregnant.
Unfortunately, this disease has no cure, but you have treatment options depending on the severity of your symptoms and whether you want a baby.
According to the HNS, women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men because of hormonal changes after menopause. (3)
Oestrogen is one of the most essential hormones for healthy bones, but its production after menopause falls, which decreases bone density.
So, you're more likely to injure something when you perform physical activities, even simple ones. Osteoporosis can cause back pain due to a collapsed or broken spinal bone.
#8 Uterine Fibroids
A uterine fibroid is a benign tumor that grows in and around the uterus. The good news is that it doesn't increase your cancer risk and rarely turns malignant.
The most common symptoms of uterine fibroids are heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, frequent urination, and back pain. Rarely, fibroids can cause acute pain.
Widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, mood swings, and sleep problems can indicate fibromyalgia.
It's a condition that increases your pain sensitivity by changing how your brain and spinal cord process signals. It can develop after intense stress, physical trauma, surgery, or infections.
While it affects men, it's more common in women. There's no cure, but you can manage the symptoms with the right drugs.
What Other Conditions Can Cause Lower Back Pain in Females?
Besides these nine conditions, lower pain aches in women can be due to:
- Muscle strain. Intense physical activities, repetitive motions, or an accident can overstretch your back muscles, causing them to tear, stiffen, or spasm.
- Sciatica. When a bulging spinal disc presses on the sciatic nerve, it causes back pain that radiates from the lower back to the leg.
- Scoliosis. It's an abnormal spine curve, common in young children and adolescents.
- A herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis.
- Poor posture. Women tend to wear high heels and carry heavy bags that affect their posture, put extra pressure on the spine, and increase the risk of back pain.
- Urinary tract infection. When a UTI reaches the kidneys, it can cause severe back discomfort.
- Sacroillac joint dysfunction. It causes leg pain and lower back discomfort.
- Large ovarian cysts or ruptured cysts can also cause pain radiating to the lower back.
Sometimes, back pain in women, especially back pain when bending can also be a sign of a heart attack. Women are more likely to experience unusual symptoms than men, such as back/jaw pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and indigestion.
You should seek medical care and have a physical exam as soon as possible if back pain starts suddenly and is accompanied by other worrisome symptoms.
And now, let's talk about how to prevent lower back pain in women.
Tips and Tricks to Prevent Lower Back Pain in Women
You can't prevent all cases of lower back aches, but you can do a couple of things to reduce the risks and manage the discomfort:
- Keep PMS symptoms at bay with regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, and a regular sleeping schedule.
- Avoid bending or lifting heavy objects when pregnant. If you have to lift something light, bend at your knees.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Weight gain increases the pressure on the spine.
- Use a lumbar support brace, such as Stot Sports Black Brace, to correct your posture and support your back when working.
- Consider physical therapy. It can help with scoliosis, sciatica, and other spine conditions.
- Do aerobic exercises. They can strengthen your core muscles, increase your range of motion, relieve muscle spasms, and alleviate spinal pain.
- Try yoga stretches for period-related pain. Watch the video below for more information.
Lower back pain in women can range from mild discomfort to crippling agony. Since it can be due to a wide range of health problems, you should mention it to your health provider.
Also, I don't recommend using anti-inflammatory medication or over-the-counter pain relief for more than a couple of days without consulting a specialist.
What do you think about this topic? What causes lower back pain in women? Share your experience in the comment section.
1. Chumpalova P, Iakimova R, Stoimenova-Popova M, Aptalidis D, Pandova M, Stoyanova M, et al. Prevalence and clinical picture of premenstrual syndrome in females from Bulgaria. Annals of General Psychiatry. 2020;19.
2. Back Pain in Pregnancy [Internet]. www.hopkinsmedicine.org. 2019. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/staying-healthy-during-pregnancy/back-pain-in-pregnancy
3. NHS. Causes - Osteoporosis [Internet]. NHS. 2019. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoporosis/causes/